Delightful Dining: The Meal

cc11We’ve recently talked about serving a meal to other people, and we’re going to continue with new tips and instructions about planning the meal (full menu suggestions will be posted later).

Remember that these lists are for all of the volunteers, and are broken down in detailed step-by-step instructions, so you may only be doing a few items!

Meal Basics

Know special needs. Ask all guests and volunteers if they have any dietary restrictions (such as allergies or health issues), and write that information down to use when planning the menu. If the host has pets, this is a good time to ask about pet allergies.

Plan the menu. Keep this simple! If everyone in your group is an experienced cook, go ahead and cook a fancy meal; otherwise, stick with a simple dinner, which will be just as appreciated and a lot less stress. Keep the overall cost in mind. Out-of-season fruits and vegetables will be more expensive to purchase, as will most seafood and steaks.

Make a grocery list. Go over all recipe lists in your menu and write down the amount of each ingredient needed. People may be able to donate a few items from home, so check on that, then make a grocery list of everything else that still needs to be purchased.

Collect donated items. It’s better to collect all items the group volunteered to donate now. This way, you can make sure everything needed will be there, which is much better than having to run out to the store at the last minute if someone forgets or runs out of an ingredient right before the meal day.

cc21Buy the groceries. This can be done a few days in advance, but if there are items that may spoil, such as milk or fresh vegetables, don’t buy things much before then. Only purchase what is needed for the dinner. Make sure to buy enough, but don’t buy too much (this is where writing down the amount needed for recipes comes in handy). If there are two brands of cheese, buy the cheaper brand. That may only save you a dollar on cheese, but a dollar saved on several items really adds up! Remember that everyone is giving money based on a set budget.

Store everything. This is best done at whichever house the food will be cooked. Make a note on each item so someone in the house doesn’t accidentally eat something that’s for the dinner. All items that can be kept at room temperature can be left in the grocery bag and placed out of the way, so it’ll be easy to grab on cooking night.

Collect the money. Divide the final amount on the grocery receipt by the number of people helping financially to determine how much each person owes. Hopefully, everyone has planned and shopped carefully enough that each person only owes a small amount of money.

Coming up

Next we’ll talk about the atmosphere, so stay tuned!

By Davonne Parks

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